Short-form success: Japan’s istyle inc sees Douyin as the ‘next major battleground’ in China’s e-commerce space

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

istyle Inc's Over The Border is channelling its resources into Chinese social media platform Douyin. [Getty Images]
istyle Inc's Over The Border is channelling its resources into Chinese social media platform Douyin. [Getty Images]

Related tags China live streaming live commerce Japan

istyle inc’s live commerce company Over The Border is channelling its resources into Chinese social media platform Douyin with hopes to develop it into a ‘core business' in China.

Over The Border is a Multi-Channel Network (MCN) company centred on live commerce owned by Japanese beauty retail and media firm istyle Inc.

istyle is the parent company of @cosme, a Japanese beauty retailer and popular online beauty community that aggregates and rates cosmetic products.

The company has been operating in China since 2012 and launched @cosme’s online flagship store on Tmall Global in 2015.

In September 2020, Over the Border was established to help the firm recover the in-bound sales @cosme lost due to the decline in Chinese tourists. Additionally, the firm planned to use this venture as a platform to study the trends in China.

“In China, live commerce has become a natural part of corporate activities. Just as offline stores open with set hours, I believe it’s essential for online businesses to do the same through live commerce,” ​said Osuke Kurashima, representative director of Over The Border.

Since its launch, the company has been operating on the Alibaba-owned Taobao platform. According to the firm it has been conducting five live commerce sessions a week with around 10 Chinese Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs).

As a result, it was approached by Chinese firm ByteDance to launch an official store on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, a short-form video social networking platform with 600 million daily active users.

Over The Border had conducted a live streaming campaign on Douyin with Japanese beauty brand Opera and saw the number of sales exceed 6,000 with the help of just 10 KOLs.

According to the firm, the most successful influencer achieved a return on advertising spend (ROAS) of over 500%.

Kurashima told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ that the firm has high hopes for its e-commerce venture with Douyin.

“As the times continue to change, we expect Douyin to become the next major battleground in the Chinese e-commerce space, and beauty brands will be no exception, so we think this is the right time to get involved.”

Within the next six months, the company is aiming to accumulate at least a million followers on its Douyin store. Currently, @cosme accounts on Weibo, WeChat and Little Red Book has over three million followers.

“Douyin is the embodiment of content e-commerce, the fusion of media and e-commerce centred on people that we wanted to achieve, and we will concentrate our resources to develop it as a core business.”

While the inbound of Chinese tourists is drastically decreasing due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the company is aiming to create new encounters between Chinese consumers and Japanese cosmetics brands.

For instance, the company has created content around the @cosme flagship store in Harajuku, which has more than 25,000 products from 600 brands.

While the firm is working to strengthen its cooperation with Chinese KOLs, it will also tap into its @cosme staff in Toyko, who can bring that signature Japanese service to Chinese consumers via live streaming.

“All content is created in Japan, including top-selling rankings and how-to tips from active beauty staff. Since travel is restricted all over the world, customers want to see the real Japan, and we will transmit not only beauty products but also a wide range of trends and culture.”

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